The first time I heard the song “I Started a Joke” by the BeeGees I must have been ten years old—maybe younger. There was something so sad about the lyrics. I never really stopped to think about them, but Robin Gibb’s recent passing has made me pause to ponder their poignancy.
Many people I know are unhappy in their marriages and unhappy with their lives. Few of us seem to have the courage to do anything about it. Our guilt, sense of obligation and fears paralyze us. Eventually, the idea of changing our lives becomes nothing more than a fantasy. I was in an unhappy relationship for a long time. Hell, I’ve been in several unhappy relationships. I stayed because I was not strong enough to leave. Instead, I lived in hope that one day the man I loved would make me a priority in his life. He never did. Eventually, after being my self-esteem into the ground and developing so much resentment towards the person I loved for not acknowledging my needs, I left.
Past relationships are past relationship for a reason—usually it’s a pretty good one. It’s very difficult to leave, but it’s essential if you want to find happiness. People think that staying for the children is the smart thing to do, when really it’s just an excuse. Children know when their parents are unhappy and staying in a dead marriage sets a bad example. You are teaching your child to be unhappy, to compromise his or her sense of self-worth for the sake of others, which doesn’t make for a successful, confident adult. Isn’t it better for a child to have one happy parent as a result of divorce, than having two miserable parents living together pretending everything is okay? I think so. Where is the value in having your child witnessing a loveless marriage lacking in passion and play?
I’m now at an age where the icons of my youth are taking their final curtain call. It started three years ago with Farrah Fawcett (62) and Michael Jackson (51), on the same day, no less. This past week, we lost a queen and king of the disco era with the passing of both Donna Summer (63) and Robin Gibb (62). This has given me a heightened sense of how short life really is. I keep wondering when am I going to start living my life. I want to travel, I want to love, I want to play and share my life with someone who is as passionate as I am.
Every year, I make plans to travel; rarely do I execute them. I admire people who have the gumption and opportunity to embrace life and travel. I struggle to be more of that person. It’s what I want. What I don’t enjoy is traveling alone and not having someone to share it with. But I am tired of waiting for someone to come along and help me live out my dreams, so I try to push myself out of my comfort zone—to zipline or bungie jump fearlessly into the call to adventure. That is my greatest fear and greatest desire.
I wrote a blog last year in which I mention my father. He was a great man who managed for years to live a healthy balance between work and play. He loved to sail and ski and travel. He made every weekend a long weekend and finessed several months of vacation each year. On his deathbed he reflected on how beautiful our world is and despite having seen so much of it, he regretted not seeing more of it. If I died tomorrow, I would have many regrets. I need to change that. Out of respect to my father and the Pop icons of my youth who have slipped away, I vow to honor your deaths by making an effort to live my life with more courage and passion—singing your songs—songs that make me feel young and alive.
I started a joke, which started the whole world crying.
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me.
I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing.
Oh if I’d only seen, oh yeah, that the joke was on me.
I looked at the skies running my hands over my eyes
and I fell out of bed, hurting my head, from things that I said.
Till I finally died, which started the whole world living.
Oh if I’d only seen that the joke was on me…